Published 2018-01-04

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Major food innovation initiative

Formas is getting SEK 50 million to run a national food research programme. The aim of the programme, in which Mistra is also involved, is to boost productivity and innovation in the food chain.

The Swedish Research Council Formas has received SEK 50 million to run an interdisciplinary research programme for the food sector until 2019. This is the first time a long-term research and innovation programme in this subject area has been funded.

The programme is intended to bolster needs-driven research, sharpen the focus on product development and innovation, improve dissemination and commercialisation of research results and enhance knowledge across the entire food chain.

The hope is that the programme will be able to make the food industry more competitive in the long term.

‘If we’re to reach the goal of increased food production, we can’t have yesterday’s answers to tomorrow’s questions. So we’ve got to be at the forefront of both research and innovation, not least because the food industry is Sweden’s fourth largest industrial sector, and the whole food chain is tremendously important for jobs and development in both rural and urban areas,’ says Sven-Erik Bucht, Minister for Rural Affairs.

Although Formas has been put in charge of the programme, other research funders will join in the work. One of them is Mistra.

‘We’ve long funded research on food and rural development, so this initiative is entirely in line with both previous and ongoing commitments. The difference is that our initiatives often clearly focus on a specific area, while this programme will be more comprehensive and include a large number of different aspects,’ says Åke Iverfeldt, Mistra’s CEO and a member of the programme’s steering committee.

Although several research funders are now involved, there will be no duplication of current efforts. Rather, the idea is to broaden the research area.

‘Overall, it’s about investigating how Sweden can become more independent in terms of food production, while making the Swedish food sector more competitive,’ Iverfeldt says.

Per Westergård